Several DriverCheck clients are starting to inquire about the prevalence of K2/Spice in Canada, and whether certified laboratories have the ability to test for synthetic cannabis (currently, no lab in Canada can perform this test).
K2 or Spice is a mix of herbs, spices or shredded plant material that is often sprayed with a synthetic compound chemically similar to THC, the psychoactive ingredient in marijuana.
Unfortunately, there are no recent statistics to show just how common this drug is among workers in the Canadian population in general, or the Oil Sands specifically. However, in response to demand, some manufacturers have developed a POCT kit to test for K2. As we know, POCT testing is not as accurate or reliable as lab-based testing. Like with any quick test, it’s imperative to have qualified, credible laboratory tests to provide support in the form of appropriate screening and confirmation tests.
DriverCheck can test for K2/Spice, but only by shipping samples to an American laboratory. Currently, only two laboratories in the U.S. will arrange for synthetic cannabinoids to be tested because of the costs associated with developing the testing process, procedures, and protocols, and running each test. As such, testing for this substance is costly for clients in Canada who wish to ship specimens to the U.S.
Also, at this time, there are no established cutoffs for these drugs and each laboratory is setting its own cutoff levels. Unfortunately, because these drugs are constantly changing (there are about 450 synthetic cannabinoid compounds that we know of), it is difficult for laboratories to develop a single universal chemical marker that could link all the chemicals together so that one test could be used for all.
Another designer drug on the market is Bath Salts, and the complexities in testing for Bath Salts are similar to those referenced above relating to Synthetic Marijuana.